Saturday, May 21, 2005

Zimbabwe: Bring back the white people!

Africa: I'm shocked that the land grabbing failed, just shocked.

White farmers may be allowed back on their land in Zimbabwe as part of a plan by the government of Robert Mugabe to solve the country's deepening economic crisis. The president's key finance aide has called for some of the farmers whose properties were confiscated in a land seizure programme to be allowed to resume growing crops to boost the country's flagging agricultural output. Gideon Gono, governor of the central bank and Mr Mugabe's main policy maker, made the proposal as he announced a 31% devaluation of the Zimbabwe currency. "In order to ensure maximum productivity levels, there is great scope in the country promoting and supporting joint ventures between the new farmers with progressive-minded former operators," said Mr Gono in a state radio and television broadcast that lasted nearly three hours. He added that the skilled whites and other new investors would be given special guarantees of uninterrupted tenure of five to 10 years, backed by government force to prevent any disruptions on the farms. Mr Gono was careful to say that it would not reverse Mr Mugabe's redistribution of white-owned land to blacks. However, observers say his plan would be an implicit admission that the land seizure policy has failed.

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